Bringing Emma Home(4)

By: Stella MacLean

His words stung. She understood his feelings and, at times, had shared them. But he didn’t understand how much she needed a baby. Her arms ached every time one of her friends had a baby. Then, when Cecilia and Dave had adopted, Grace finally felt hopeful over the possibility she and Aidan might, too. He simply needed more time to think about it, and she was willing to wait. “Sure. Why don’t I make breakfast for us? I promise not to talk about adoption.”

“That’s my girl. All I really want to do is spend time with you. Just you. Would that be okay?”

“I would love that,” she said, recognizing the expression on his face. He wasn’t going to talk about a child right now. It was up to her to accept that and have a pleasant breakfast with him. But that didn’t mean she was giving up. Not a chance.

Suddenly, she brightened. She knew what she’d do. She would invite Cecilia and Dave to dinner, maybe a good Southern barbecue evening. Cecilia’s praise for Sterling Martin would carry more sway than anything Grace herself could say at this point. Aiden had a great deal of respect for Cecilia, one of the computer engineers in his firm.

He rubbed her shoulder, his fingers circling the skin over her collarbone—a clear sign that Aidan had something on his mind, something he wasn’t ready to share with her. “What is it, honey?”

He sighed. “Just thinking that it would be nice if you came with me today. I have a client I have to see in downtown Charleston. But I want you with me.” He held her closer, running his lips along her hairline, driving her crazy with need. “Once I’m finished, we could have lunch, take a carriage ride around historic Charleston, buy something for your garden at one of the stalls at the market. We’ve often talked about going into the city and spending time wandering the shops. Why don’t we do it today? I want you with me,” he repeated slowly, his gaze searching her face, coming to rest on her lips.

“Oh, Aidan, I want that, too, but I promised Cecilia that we’d meet for lunch.” She looked into his hazel-green eyes, seeing the disappointment. Trying to soften the blow, she whispered, “I wish you’d come by and see this little baby. You will not be able to resist him.”

* * *

THE OLD GUILT swirled around Aidan’s mind. He didn’t want to talk about babies or adoption or anything related to that today. He wanted his wife to pay attention to him and only him, to focus on their relationship. That was all he’d wanted for the past seven years: her undivided attention on him and their love for each other. Was that so much to ask?

He’d done everything she wanted, raced home when she called him, tried to console her when each attempt to conceive failed. But at times it hardly seemed worth it. Their marriage had become a marathon of waiting, hoping and frantic lovemaking, all to try to have a baby.

He didn’t want to remember the one time he’d slipped up, but that weekend entered his mind, as it had a few minutes ago. It had happened five years ago and was long over. He’d hooked up with a woman, a client whose business was in Spartanburg. He’d never heard from her again after that one weekend, and didn’t intend to renew any contact. All the same, he felt guilty about how much he had enjoyed having a woman’s attention focused solely on him. He scrubbed his face with his hands to hide the memory of how that weekend had felt. Sighing, he turned to Grace. “Are you sure you can’t come with me?”

“I’d have to call and cancel lunch with Cecilia, and I want to see James again.” Grace sighed as she snuggled closer to him.

He soaked in her smile, felt the old pull of attraction that had been there between them since the day they’d met in high school.

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